A Key Opportunity for Beaver County

September 30, 2021By: Brett Hollern
PEC Blog

Brett Hollern, Senior Project Manager for Trails and Outdoor Recreation

Riverwise, along with the Ohio River Trail Council, are currently midway through a campaign aimed at the preservation of a potential key piece of trail infrastructure in Beaver County known as the Blacks Run Bridge. While so many of the long-distance trails corridors PEC focuses on are linear in nature, the path to completing almost never is. There are numerous challenges to a trail corridor along the Ohio, still peppered with industry and other impediments, but the opportunity to protect a needed above-grade crossing of State Route 51 and bypass a hands-off industrial tract is paramount.

It may be years before cyclists and pedestrians use the Blacks Run Bridge or train watchers stop to view the active tracks beneath, but foresight is a driver in trail development. Having spent the bulk of my professional life working on the Great Allegheny Passage, I can attest firsthand to those who saw the value in saving the Big Savage Tunnel — some 130 miles from the Point in Pittsburgh, yet the keystone for a trail connecting Pittsburgh with Washington D.C.

One of coolest things about trails in Western Pennsylvania is the prolific reuse of structures tied our region’s industrial heritage.

The people behind this effort to convince the Beaver County Commissioners to accept the donation of the bridge are taking the proper approach, working to build consensus on the value of trails to the residents whose communities the trail will pass through. While we often focus on economic impact and large-scale connections, the greatest value of trails is often to the people who reside in the adjoining communities who will use them to exercise, commute and connect.

I encourage you to take a bit of time and learn more about the bridge and trail efforts in Beaver County, I think you’ll find a compelling case to support the cause. One of coolest things about trails in Western Pennsylvania is the prolific reuse of structures tied our region’s industrial heritage. Hopefully, we can add the Blacks Run Bridge to that list.

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